Western Union Mutual Insurance Association of Wilber
Western Union Mutual Insurance Association and was organized by a group of farmers in 1879 in Brush Creek Precinct west of Wilber, Nebraska. It is believed they originally met at a private residence of one of the directors, then meetings took place at Brush Creek Sokol Hall after it was built in 1888. On February 16, 1896, the association petitioned the state to become incorporated under the laws of the State of Nebraska as a mutual assessment fire and lightning association for a term of fifty years. Then on January 21, 1946, the original charter was extended an additional fifty years from February 16, 1946, and on April 21, 1977, it was amended to be perpetual in existence.
For the first forty years, Western Union’s business was conducted, and ledgers were written in Czech. It wasn’t until 1919 that the treasurer, Charles R. Ripa, being bilingual, switched the ledgers to English. Since then, three generations of Ripas have served as secretary/treasurer. The records were originally kept in their home until an office building was purchased in Wilber, Nebraska in 1995.
The current office building, located at 116 West 3rd Street in Wilber, Nebraska, was built by John J Batta in 1892, presumably as a saloon. After John died in 1906, not much is known about the building other than it also served as the local post office, and then sometime after 1963 it became a dime store and variety store before being purchased in 1995. After some extensive remodeling by Chris and Kevin Krivohlavek, grandsons of former long-time secretary Louis Krivohlavek, the Western Union office was opened January 1, 1997. The name changed to Western United Mutual after the merger with DeWitt in 2001, and all records are kept in Wilber now.
Farmers Mutual Insurance Company of DeWitt
Farmers Mutual Insurance Association of DeWitt got its start by organizing in 1886 as the German Mutual Fire and Lightning Society of Clatonia Township. All of the original ledgers and articles were written in German at that time and did not switch to English until 1893.
Farmers Mutual Insurance Company of Thayer County, Nebraska
Farmers Mutual Insurance Association of Thayer County began on January 17, 1887 when several farmers and business people were called together by Mr. J.J. Kern of Friedensau, Nebraska. They elected a board of directors and officers, with C. Beisner as President, and J.J. Kern as secretary. It was not created for the purpose of making money, as none of the officers were salaried, but instead to save money from going into the hands of other insurance companies.
According to the Hebron Journal in January 20, 1887, there were 195 policies, four officers, and twelve original directors. In 1888 it was noted that polices would be issued in English as well as German. In 1891 insurance policies were written for wind in addition to fire and lightening but in 1892 it was decided not to include wind as a peril and the policy holders received their money back.
As tribute to the early success of the association, in 1906, despite it being a very cold January day, 300 members attended the annual meeting. This was at a time when personal cars were few and far between and many had to ride by train or horse and buggy instead.
In 1984, Stanley Bartling of Deshler became president and remained in that office until the merger with Western United Mutual in 2004. It was then that he became a director and agent only. He continued as such until his death in 2012.
Western United Mutual Insurance Association Today
Here at Western United Mutual, we are farmers as well, so we understand the unique needs of our members. As an assessment association, we invest our profits back into the company to better serve everyone. We’re proud of our humble beginnings from over 140 years ago and look forward to the next 100 years!